LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Mardi Gras has a rich history in south Louisiana, including an extensive and diverse range of weather.
Through the years we’ve seen all types of weather conditions on Mardi Gras, including extreme cold, extreme warmth and heavy precipitation. We’ve also seen Mardi Gras winter weather events, coating the day’s festivities in a sheet of ice.
Since the holiday occurs in February and March, most of them have been on the cool side.
Looking at records from 1899-2021, seven Mardi Gras days had high temperatures in the 80s, 50 with highs in the 70s, 27 with highs in the 60s, 25 with highs in the 50s, seven with highs in the 40s, and seven with highs in the 30s.
The warmest Mardi Gras on record was in 1911 when the thermometer hit 85 degrees. Averaging the ten high temperatures for each decade in the records, the warmest decade of Mardi Gras holidays was the 1910s. The coolest decade was the 1960s.
Many Arctic outbreaks on or around Mardi Gras show up in the historical records, which isn’t a surprise given the February and March dates.
The five coldest Mardi Gras days were:
- Feb. 14, 1899: High 30, Low 15
- Feb. 16, 2021: High 35, Low 16
- Feb. 7, 1989: High 33, Low 27
- Feb. 11, 1986: High 37, Low 28
- March 4, 2014: High 36, Low 30
Feb. 14, 1899 was a Mardi Gras which occurred on the back end of the Great Arctic outbreak of 1899. This still stands as one of the most extreme Arctic outbreaks in the historical record for much of the central and eastern United States. It was during this outbreak Lafayette reached its unofficial all-time low temperature of six degrees.
The most recent one, Feb. 16, 2021, saw a morning start of 16 degrees in Lafayette, the second coldest temperature recorded on Mardi Gras day. An ice event the day before led to dangerous travel the morning of the 16th. Many festivities were already cancelled, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 4, 2014 was the coldest March Mardi Gras on record. It also featured another ice event for the region. With highs in the low-to-mid 30s, a steady sleet/freezing rain fell through the day. This coated much of the area with a 0.10-0.20″ sheet of ice and many Mardi Gras events were either cancelled or sparsely attended.
This decade is off to a cold start in terms of Mardi Gras high temperatures. We’ll see if Mardi Gras 2023 continues this trend.